Abstract

It has been reported that short exposures of the human eye to near ultraviolet radiation in the wavelength range 290–365 mμ produce appreciable changes in subsequent dark adaptation, and a lasting depression of visual sensitivity, rod and cone. These reports are hard to reconcile with the fact that only traces of such radiation reach the retina. Wavelengths shorter than 300 mμ are absorbed by the cornea of the eye, and they can do damage; longer wavelengths up to 400 mμ are absorbed in the lens. The assertion that such radiations affect the visual sensitivity is reexamined in the present paper. Exposures to ultraviolet light identical with those referred to produce no appreciable effects on subsequent dark adaptation of the normal eye, rod or cone. In lensless (aphakic) subjects, near ultraviolet radiation in the neighborhood of 365 mμ does reach the retina and is clearly visible. Even in such persons, exposure to the near ultraviolet does not affect the threshold of rod vision after 20 minutes of dark adaptation. The early portions of dark adaptation—the adaptation of the cones, and sometimes also the early rod thresholds—may be raised; but these changes are caused, not by intrinsic effects of the ultraviolet, but by the increased brightness to which it gives rise in the aphakic eye.

It is concluded that ultraviolet radiations which might harm the retina do not reach it; those which reach the retina do it no harm, and can at most be seen.

© 1952 Optical Society of America

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References

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  1. E. Wolf, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 32, 219 (1946); Science,  105366 (1947).
    [Crossref]
  2. Zigler, Wolf, and King, J. Opt. Soc. Am. 41, 354 (1951).
    [Crossref]
  3. G. Wald, Doc. Ophth. 3, 94 (1949).
    [Crossref]
  4. G. Wald, Science,  101, 653, (1945).
    [Crossref] [PubMed]
  5. H. Wagner, Arch. Ophthalmol. (Berlin) 138, 486 (1938).
  6. D. G. Cogan, J. Am. Med. Assn. 142, 145 (1950).
    [Crossref]
  7. D. G. Cogan and V. E. Kinsey, Arch. Ophthalmol. (Chicago) 35, 670 (1946).
    [Crossref]
  8. W. Rohrschneider, Arch. Ophthalmol. (Berlin) 135, 282 (1936).
  9. G. Wald, J. Opt. Soc. Am. 35, 187 (1945).
    [Crossref]
  10. This experiment resembles one reported by Hulburt, [J. Opt. Soc. Am. 41, 402, (1951)], who had a dark adapted observer look for 3 minutes at an 85-watt high pressure mercury arc screened by the Corning 5860 glass, which transmits virtually nothing but the 365 mμ radiation. When the arc was turned off, this observer was found to recover complete dark adaptation within 5–10 seconds.
    [Crossref] [PubMed]
  11. E. Ludvigh and V. E. Kinsey, Science 104, 246 (1946).
    [Crossref] [PubMed]
  12. G. Wald and D. R. Griffin, J. Opt. Soc. Am. 37, 321 (1947).
    [Crossref] [PubMed]

1951 (2)

1950 (1)

D. G. Cogan, J. Am. Med. Assn. 142, 145 (1950).
[Crossref]

1949 (1)

G. Wald, Doc. Ophth. 3, 94 (1949).
[Crossref]

1947 (1)

1946 (3)

E. Ludvigh and V. E. Kinsey, Science 104, 246 (1946).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

D. G. Cogan and V. E. Kinsey, Arch. Ophthalmol. (Chicago) 35, 670 (1946).
[Crossref]

E. Wolf, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 32, 219 (1946); Science,  105366 (1947).
[Crossref]

1945 (2)

1938 (1)

H. Wagner, Arch. Ophthalmol. (Berlin) 138, 486 (1938).

1936 (1)

W. Rohrschneider, Arch. Ophthalmol. (Berlin) 135, 282 (1936).

Cogan, D. G.

D. G. Cogan, J. Am. Med. Assn. 142, 145 (1950).
[Crossref]

D. G. Cogan and V. E. Kinsey, Arch. Ophthalmol. (Chicago) 35, 670 (1946).
[Crossref]

Griffin, D. R.

Hulburt,

King,

Kinsey, V. E.

E. Ludvigh and V. E. Kinsey, Science 104, 246 (1946).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

D. G. Cogan and V. E. Kinsey, Arch. Ophthalmol. (Chicago) 35, 670 (1946).
[Crossref]

Ludvigh, E.

E. Ludvigh and V. E. Kinsey, Science 104, 246 (1946).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

Rohrschneider, W.

W. Rohrschneider, Arch. Ophthalmol. (Berlin) 135, 282 (1936).

Wagner, H.

H. Wagner, Arch. Ophthalmol. (Berlin) 138, 486 (1938).

Wald, G.

Wolf,

Wolf, E.

E. Wolf, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 32, 219 (1946); Science,  105366 (1947).
[Crossref]

Zigler,

Arch. Ophthalmol. (Berlin) (2)

W. Rohrschneider, Arch. Ophthalmol. (Berlin) 135, 282 (1936).

H. Wagner, Arch. Ophthalmol. (Berlin) 138, 486 (1938).

Arch. Ophthalmol. (Chicago) (1)

D. G. Cogan and V. E. Kinsey, Arch. Ophthalmol. (Chicago) 35, 670 (1946).
[Crossref]

Doc. Ophth. (1)

G. Wald, Doc. Ophth. 3, 94 (1949).
[Crossref]

J. Am. Med. Assn. (1)

D. G. Cogan, J. Am. Med. Assn. 142, 145 (1950).
[Crossref]

J. Opt. Soc. Am. (4)

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. (1)

E. Wolf, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 32, 219 (1946); Science,  105366 (1947).
[Crossref]

Science (2)

G. Wald, Science,  101, 653, (1945).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

E. Ludvigh and V. E. Kinsey, Science 104, 246 (1946).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

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Figures (7)

Fig. 1
Fig. 1

Spectral transmission of the combined cornea and aqueous humor of the rabbit eye (Kinsey) (V. E. Kinsey, Arch. Ophthalmol. (Chicago) 39, 508 (1948)); and of the lens of an 8-year old Macacus rhesus monkey (Wald). (See reference 3.) The large open circles plotted with the lens data are visual measurements of the transmission of the human lens in observers of average age 21. (See reference 3 and 4.) The broken lines show the transmissions of filters used in the present experiments: the AO crown (1045) or Corning Pyrex (774), both of which are very similar; and the Corning Noviol A (3389).

Fig. 2
Fig. 2

Dark adaptation following exposure of a normal subject to light containing the near ultraviolet (crown filter, open circles), or from which the ultraviolet had been excluded (Noviol filter, solid circles). Data of 3 experiments, in 2 of which the right eye, and in 1 the left eye, had been exposed to ultraviolet. The inclusion of this radiation in the adapting light has no appreciable effect upon subsequent dark adaptation, cone or rod.

Fig. 3
Fig. 3

Dark adaptation of a lensless (aphakic) subject after exposure to light containing the near ultraviolet (open circles) or excluding it (closed circles). Each section of the figure includes the data of two experiments. In the upper section the right eye had been exposed to the ultraviolet, in the lower section the left eye. In each case the exposure to ultraviolet radiation has not affected the thresholds after 20–30 minutes of dark adaptation; but it has raised the thresholds in the early sections of dark adaptation—those of the cones, and in the lower section also the early rod thresholds.

Fig. 4
Fig. 4

Dark adaptation of peripheral cones in an aphakic observer. The left eye was exposed to a relatively dim light which included a high intensity of ultraviolet (open circles), while the right eye was exposed to a very bright light which included no ultraviolet (solid circles). Then the dark adaptation of the cones was measured with red test flashes. The cone thresholds are higher after the brighter light adaptation, regardless of ultraviolet content.

Fig. 5
Fig. 5

Dark adaptation of peripheral cones in a normal observer. This subject was first completely dark adapted; his thresholds, shown at the left as a large, half-filled circle, were the same in both eyes. Then the left eye was exposed to a high intensity of ultraviolet light (open circles), while the right eye was exposed to a very bright light lacking the ultraviolet (solid circles). The dark adaptation of the cones was then measured with a red test light (691 mμ). Ultraviolet irradiation in this case produced a very low state of light adaptation, erased within about 5 minutes; while the exposure to bright, ultraviolet-free light produced a rise in cone thresholds which persisted even after 35 minutes.

Fig. 6
Fig. 6

Spectral transmission of a half-silvered mirror, used as a neutral filter for the visible and the near ultraviolet.

Fig. 7
Fig. 7

Dark adaptation of an aphakic observer following exposure to a dim light containing the near ultraviolet (open circles); and to a brighter light from which the ultraviolet had been removed (solid circles). The cone segments of dark adaptation are the same in both cases; but after the brighter irradiation, the dark adaptation of the rods is delayed and all rod thresholds are high. This experiment, repeated with the adapting lights reversed, yielded substantially the same results. The brighter light produces the greater effect on subsequent dark adaptation, regardless of ultraviolet content.

Tables (1)

Tables Icon

Table I Thresholds of the dark adapted cones and rods following 10 minutes exposure to the radiation from a 250-watt mercury lamp—the General Electric H5—passing through a Pyrex ground glass and AO Crown glass 1045, transmitting wavelengths above 290 mμ; or through the Pyrex glass and Corning filter 3389 (Noviol Shade A) transmitting wavelengths above 410 mμ. Log thresholds in arbitrary units. The letters r and l designate thresholds of the right and left eyes.